Eliminating negative thinking can make a big difference. It is something that everyone can do. This does not mean that we have to always be positive. We can also practice neutral thinking because not everything in life should have a positive reaction. For example, if you lost your job a positive reaction would not be natural. A negative response to this would be to think that everything is hopeless and I should give up. A neutral response would be that this is not good news, but God is still with me. I will continue to work hard and trust that God has a purpose for how He will use me. When we eliminate or reduce negative thinking, our minds are then freed to solve problems more clearly.
To avoid any negative thinking we can seek to cultivate great thoughts. This can be done by thinking great thoughts about God, yourself, others, your life, the future, and the past. To accomplish this, the Bible provides ample resources. The following are a few examples.
Great thoughts about God
No one is like you, Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Jeremiah 10:6.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23.
Great thoughts about yourself
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1.
Great thoughts about others
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17.
So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:5-6.
Great thoughts about the future
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:1-2.
Great thoughts about the past
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1.
True power comes from God. God’s power is unending and unchanging. It does not depend on earthly things or the opinion of others. When we rely on God’s power to strengthen us and guide our lives, we know that we can be empowered our whole lives. There are many motivational speakers who may make people feel energized for a day, but do not provide anything of lasting value. Jesus was a motivational teacher. A motivational teacher provides you energy and wisdom that will last your entire life.
There was a website that recently published a list of the “50 least powerful people in the world.” This is a list of people who once held positions of power or esteem in the world but then lost their position or the public view of them changed for the worse. The introduction to the article provides a fitting illustration for people to see the folly of chasing worldly desires. “Fame, fortune, and power in all its forms are glorified in American culture…However, power can be fleeting. Circumstances can change rapidly; fortunes can be lost overnight; and the masters of the universe today can wind up unemployable tomorrow.”
If we rely on worldly values and ideals for how we get our sense of belonging and worth, it will never be lasting. If we draw our power from God at work in our lives, our power supply will be unending and able to withstand any difficulties that come. Colossians 1:11 notes the perseverance and power that comes from being a Christian. Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.
We can be full of energy because we know that we have the wonderful free gift of salvation given to us by Jesus’ great love and sacrifice for us. The energy that we can draw on is God’s energy, an energy that is firmly placed deep within us. In the early 1900s, S.D. Gordon was a prolific author and sought after speaker. One of his quotes perfectly describes the unending joy and energy we receive from God. “Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens.”
S.D. Gordon wrote twenty-two books in a devotional series called “Quiet Talks”. His quiet manner, simplicity, and gentle spirit led him to be well-received wherever he spoke. It is a fitting lesson that true energy does not come from being boastful or a self-promoter. It comes from a right understanding of who God is, what He has done for us, and then how that affects how we live our life. Non-Christians take notice when Christians share God’s love by seeking to uplift others. We can be the light of the world and show where true power comes from!
Any good thing that we do is from God. It is only His power at work within us that enables people to make a difference. Jesus states this in John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The fruit of following Jesus is a new heart with a new mind, new desires, a new will, a new way of relating to people around you, and a new purpose.
God causes us to grow not for a self-centered purpose but so that we can better serve others. Remember that God loves you and longs to help you. In response to God’s love we can make the right decisions so that we are able to show His love to others. Christian author C.S. Lewis stated, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” All of us are capable of meditating on God’s Word and then taking action based on how we feel God is leading us. God’s Word is powerful and will change us for the better.
We can pray to God for wisdom and boldness to not seek comfort but to seek His will in our lives. Sir Francis Drake was an English sea captain who lived in the sixteenth century. He definitely had a growth mindset that was driven by his faith in God. One of his prayers was for God to continue pushing Christians for how we can be used to accomplish His will.
Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes; and to push back the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. Amen!
If we stay focused on God’s Word, God will cause us to grow. We do not need to fear new experiences or the unknown because God is with us. We can pray to God to remove our complacency and boldly follow where he guides us.
Many people fear failure, but what we should really fear is the result of not trying. Why? Because if we do not move out of our comfort zone, we will not improve and grow. And when we improve and grow we are better able to help and encourage others. Staying in our comfort zones, does not help us overcome obstacles. It does not lead to progress.
A surprising and welcome discovery of the Bible is that God uses failures. The Bible is full of people with weaknesses who made mistakes but God’s strength is shown as He used these people for good. Moses was afraid to talk in front of people. Peter denied knowing Christ. Jonah ran from God’s will. God continued to work on these people and continues to work on us as well. None of us is perfect and we all have weaknesses. But empowered by God, we can move past fear to follow God’s will for our lives.
Pushing ourselves to improve is something that is effortful. Many people need to be motivated and receive positive feedback to continue working on it. Too often we want to seek comfort instead of letting ourselves feel vulnerable as we try something we may feel inadequate at first doing.
Noah probably felt uncomfortable and overwhelmed building an ark in the desert. Esther was willing to face possible death by speaking up to save others. David looked foolish attacking Goliath with a slingshot. All of these people moved past fear though, and responded with faith.
When God calls us to move outside of our comfort zones, His strength will be on display. Our best moments in life are not the days when we had nothing to do, but often when we face great challenges and are willing to persevere to overcome them. Journalist, George Lorimer, has an excellent quote about how to approach each day. “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” When we are willing to stretch our capabilities during the day, we will sleep better at night. God has made us to serve Him, and it is natural to feel good when we serve Him faithfully.
When we are willing to grow it enables us to grow others. The Christian community is strengthened when we move past fears of failure. Pastor and author, Norman Vincent Peale, provides a short but powerful prayer request we can make to God. “Ask the God who made you to keep remaking you.” Colossians 2:6-7 reinforces this. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. When fear comes knocking on your door, send faith to answer! God will provide what we need to overcome fear!
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.